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Dress Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis

While some lucky folks spend their workday in jeans and sneakers, many offices require a semi-formal dress code–which means some form of dress shoes five days a week, eight hours a day! However, while dress shoes might appease your boss and look terrific with that pencil skirt, they’re also a top offender when it comes to causing corns, bunions, and more serious conditions like heel pain, heel spurs and plantar fasciitis.

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Dress Shoes and Plantar Fasciitis

Dress shoes are a major culprit of plantar fasciitis. Why? Because most of the time, dress shoes are big on looks and light on support or cushioning. And while the arch of your foot is amazingly resilient and flexible, dress shoes that flatten, distort, or strain your arch cause small tears and progressive injuries to the fascia to develop over time, resulting in heel pain and eventual plantar fasciitis.

The Best Dress Shoes for Heel Pain

The best dress shoes for heel and foot pain are the ones that fit correctly, don’t compress your toes, and give you both arch support and cushioning. For women’s shoes, avoid high heels whenever possible. When searching for a new pair of dress shoes, it’s a good idea to try them on the evening, when your feet are likely to be slightly swollen after a day’s work.

Avoid These Qualities in Dress Shoes

  • Slick, smooth soles that could cause you to slip or slide
  • Thin, unsupportive soles that don’t support your arch
  • For women’s shoes, avoid ultra-high or stiletto heels that strain the arch
  • Shoes with a tight toe box that cause your toes to curl or press together
  • Shoes that slide around while you walk or dig into your heel and ankle
Womens Dress Shoes and Plantar Fasciitis

Look for These Qualities in Dress Shoes

  • Thicker, flexible soles with some cushioning
  • For women’s shoes, opt for flats or a more supportive platform style when possible instead of heels
  • Shoes with a toe box that gives your toes adequate space
  • Soles with ridges and some traction
  • Shoes that fit comfortably, especially at the end of the day.

Troubleshooting Painful Dress Shoes

Is there anything you can do about that expensive–but uncomfortable–pair of dress shoes sitting in your closet?

Don’t worry. With a few simple tricks, your favorite pair of dress shoes can stay in the game–without taking a toll on your feet!

Ice Stretcher

Have a pair of dress shoes with a tight toe box? Fill two heavy-duty ziplock bags with water (be sure to use the same amount of water in each). Place on bag the toe box of each shoe, then put the shoes in the freezer overnight. As the ice expands, it will gently stretch your dress shoes’ toe box.

Shoe Stretcher

Dress Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis

Investing in a shoe stretcher and stretching spray is another way to make toe boxes roomier. If you have bunions or corns, this can be especially helpful, since most come with special stretching pieces for these conditions. A shoe stretcher costs an average of $30.

Heel Grips

Heel grips are inexpensive cushioned pads that attach to the back of the shoe’s heel. If your dress shoes are rubbing and causing blisters because they’re slightly too roomy, consider adding heel grips for a snugger fit.

Rest and Stretch

Stuck with a pair of painful dress shoes for the night despite your best efforts? Bring a pair of comfortable, supportive backup shoes for the walk to and from the car, and take frequent breaks from standing when possible. To stretch out feet that hurt from wearing dress shoes, carry a golf ball in your purse or bag. When you have a chance to sit (at your desk, perhaps!) Roll the golf ball slowly from heel to toe, applying firm but gentle pressure as you roll for a quick massage.

Arch Support

The biggest bane of dress shoes is lack of arch support. Thin, hard, unsupportive soles are the norm, and orthotic dress shoes are both heavy and expensive. The good news is that almost any pair of dress shoes can quickly be converted to supportive, cushioned, plantar-fasciitis-friendly shoes with orthotic inserts made especially to combat plantar fasciitis. These inserts are inexpensive, reusable, washable, and long-lasting.

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Originally published on August 14, 2015. Updated June 14, 2017 for accuracy and quality.

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